Focalpoint(!) has Sherman in focus for the upcoming Sherman Art’s Fest on Sept. 21. The Sherman Cultural Arts District program Focalpoint(!) was officially launched at Sherman Arts Fest on Sept. 15, 2018.


Using photography workshops to build social engagement around the arts, the Focalpoint(!) Project invites local residents to contribute to a databank of curated images of places, people, and culture in the area. At this year’s Arts Fest, the Sherman Cultural Arts District will have some of the entered photos enlarged and displayed on downtown building walls.


They will also have a community project where resident will come together to create a mosaic mural from smaller images that create one large piece of art.


Cary Wacker, associate vice president for institutional advancement at Austin College, was very excited to announce that they will also be hosting another workshop at Arts Fest that is based on documenting life with photography. The group is asking for submissions from the community and are working with Piner Middle School to get the children’s perspective as well.


“We feel that photography is a great medium in that it’s a universal language for the community,” she said. “No matter what language you speak we can communicate with photographs. We got the idea for photography because it’s accessible to almost everyone and doesn’t cost a lot. Anyone can use their cellphone and contribute photos of daily life in Sherman. We are really trying to encourage diversity and want more cultures to engage so this can be representative of the whole community. We want to make downtown feel more interesting for everyone.”


Focal Point(!) was chosen as a way to support the arts and heritage of Sherman. Focal Point(!) became the winner of a grant from the Our Town Program and it’s used to foster and promote community development around the arts.


The group has held some beginning photography classes and will continue to host more workshops. They will have Instructor Ayaz Ali coming back to teach a more advanced workshop as they’ve learned that there are several levels of educational need in the photography community.


In February, they will have an art consultant and public meetings to allow input from the residents of Sherman to see what kind of art they would like downtown including statues, displays and building murals. This will be the first phase of the Focal Point (!) project, which ends in June 2020 and will be celebrated with a festival as well as call for artists to design a piece of public art. The 2nd phase will actually be to commission a couple of those pieces and have them placed permanently downtown.


The Focalpoint(!) goals include both the documentary photography project and to add to the public art collection of the cultural district in downtown Sherman.


“We want to continue this as an ongoing project but as far as being funded the grant is for a limited time. We want this wonderful collection, an archive, of life in Sherman,” said Wacker.


You can find more information about submitting your photos to the FocalPoint(!) Project at http://www.shermanarts.org/focalpoint.